After receiving a settlement agreement from the liable insurer for a personal injury lawsuit or claim, you should get your settlement money fairly quickly—anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Once you sign a waiver of liability and accept damages, the insurance company must pay you promptly. Delaying payment, failing to answer your messages, or otherwise stalling the claims process could constitute a bad faith insurance practice.
You have legal options if the insurer doesn't treat you fairly. For instance, you can partner with a personal injury lawyer who can hold the insurer accountable to its word. They can also manage other aspects of the settlement process, including negotiations.
You Should Promptly Receive Payment After Settling Your Personal Injury Case
You don't have time to waste after suffering injuries in an accident. You want prompt compensation so you can start paying your medical bills and fulfilling your other financial obligations.
Again, the insurance company should promptly pay you after you sign a waiver of liability. A waiver of liability basically says that you've reached a settlement agreement, and the insurer isn't liable for any further damages.
What is the Settlement Payment Process?
Settlement payments are usually made as a lump sum payment or as a structured settlement. Lump sum payments are paid all at one time while structured settlements are paid in regular intervals over several years or for the rest of a person's life.
With a structured settlement, the insurer puts your settlement funds into an annuity for the plaintiff which provides a continuous stream of income over the structured settlement term.
However, before accepting a settlement and deciding whether to take a lump sum or structured settlement, it's in your best interest to consult an experienced personal injury attorney to determine the best course of action for you.
Some Insurance Companies Delay the Claims Process
Many states have laws governing how insurance companies must act. That’s because insurance companies are for-profit businesses that aim to make money off selling policies not compensating injured people.
Some insurers don’t outrightly delay the claims process.
Instead, their representatives:
- Fail to respond to messages in a timely manner
- Give inconsistent information
- Make empty promises
- Throw up unnecessary roadblocks
- Pass a claim around from adjuster to adjuster
- Misrepresent policy agreements
- Pressure claimants into accepting low settlements
You have legal rights as someone injured in an accident. One of those rights involves being able to sue the insurer for breach of contract. Here, your lawsuit would allege that the insurer didn’t fulfill its obligation, and the court should award you damages.
A lawyer can help you with litigation if your case warrants a lawsuit. They can also manage all dealings with the insurance company beforehand, which could yield an out-of-court settlement.
What to Know About Accepting a Settlement From the Insurance Company
You reasonably want compensation as soon as possible after an accident. Yet, rushing the claims process may not be in your best interest. Here are some things to know about pursuing damages via an insurance claim:
You Don’t Have to Accept the First Settlement Offer
The liable insurer may offer prompt compensation after you’ve filed your claim. Yet, you don’t have to accept this offer; you have the right to negotiate a settlement that accounts for your losses. A lawyer can present evidence, examine the liable policy, and otherwise advocate for what you need.
You Should Know Your Damages Before Accepting Compensation
Right now, you may have a rough idea of how much your damages cost. However, without reaching maximum medical improvement, there’s no way to truly understand the severity of your condition. You also might not know how much you can seek for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. Still, these damages can be hard to calculate since they don’t come with monetary values.
A lawyer can do more than negotiate with the liable party and protect you from bad-faith insurance practices.
They can calculate your losses, taking into account your:
- Healthcare needs
- Missed time from work
- Quality of life and mobility
- Accident’s circumstances
- Anticipated costs
Your lawyer can also consider the liability policy’s limits when assessing your damages. If the liability policy doesn’t fully cover your losses, they may consider filing a lawsuit or determining whether liability rests elsewhere.
You Can’t Request More Money Once You Sign a Waiver of Liability
Your case ends once you sign a waiver of liability. You free the insurance company of liability for your losses, and once it issues your settlement check, you can’t ask for more money. This could mean bad things if your condition worsens or you incur additional losses.
There Are Deadlines Surrounding Insurance Claims
Each insurance company has its own deadline for processing claims. Some give claimants a few months to file, while others give a couple of years. It’s important that you file your claim as soon as possible to avoid missing any deadlines; doing so could invalidate your right to damages.
The insurer knows your claim’s filing deadline, and its representatives may do everything possible to deny what you’re owed. One of these strategies may involve purposefully wasting time, so the deadline expires, and you lose the right to seek damages. A personal injury lawyer can learn your claim’s deadline and combat any bad-faith insurance practices that delay the financial recovery process.
You Can File an Insurance Claim After Many Negligence-Based Incidents
Injured claimants can file claims after suffering:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bus accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle and motorcycle accidents
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Medical malpractice
- On-the-job accidents
- Slips and falls
- Dog bites
Certain parties can also file a wrongful death claim in the aftermath of losing a loved one.
An Accident Settlement Could Account for These Losses
Your settlement could account for these injury-related losses:
- Medical bills. You may require surgeries, medications, and other forms of healthcare to recover from your condition. Your settlement should account for your past, present, and future losses. That way, you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket.
- Lost income. Being seriously injured can prevent you from working at your normal capacity. A settlement could account for lost tips, bonuses, wages, commissions, and other forms of income. It can also account for any long-term harm to your earning power.
- Property damage expenses. If you were hurt in a traffic accident, you could recoup the cost of replacing or repairing your vehicle.
- Any out-of-pocket cost. The accident may have required that you pay for certain things from your savings. If so, you can include these costs in your claim. Examples include childcare costs, temporary transportation arrangements, and other related damages.
- Wrongful death-related expenses. You may file an insurance claim after losing a loved one to negligence. In that case, you could seek the cost of end-of-life care costs (such as hospice), funeral expenses, and other related damages.
- Non-economic damages. Non-economic damages don’t come with inherent monetary values. Instead, they account for the harm to your physical and emotional health. Examples include pain and suffering, scarring, disfigurement, and disability.
What Is the Average Personal Injury Settlement?
Personal injury cases vary widely from one to the next. With that, there’s no information regarding the average value of these claims. As noted, how much you can recover depends on your unique situation, including how seriously you were injured.
Many states do not cap how much you can request through an insurance settlement. So, there’s no limit to what you can request.
Considerations That Could Promote a Smooth Claims Process
Certain considerations could guide your claim to a prompt resolution. The following measures involve combating any delays that could impede your settlement check.
Don’t Give a Recorded Statement
You only have to give the liable insurer basic details when filing your claims, such as your name, damages’ cost, and contact information. You don’t have to give a recorded statement. In fact, many lawyers may tell you not to. But why?
Recorded statements only give the insurance company more information to work with when denying or lowballing your claim. Even innocuous statements can weaken your case. If the insurer refuses to process your claim without a recorded statement, an attorney can step in and navigate this issue.
Document Your Losses
The insurer may incorrectly calculate your damages. Yet, there’s no way to know without determining their cost. You should keep all injury-related invoices, bills, and other documentation. That way, you can learn about the true cost of your damages and negotiate that amount from the insurer.
Notify the Insurer of Your Accident Immediately
Even if you’re unsure about filing an injury claim, you should notify the insurance company about what happened as soon as possible. This establishes that you intend to file a claim. It also prevents any deadlines from expiring.
Limit Your Social Media Use
Some claims adjusters go the extra mile to deny claimants compensation. They may even peruse claimants’ social media pages, looking for any information to discredit the case. For instance, the claims adjuster may see a picture of you at a sporting event even though you claim to have debilitating back pain. They could use this picture as a way to discredit your case.
You should limit anything you share on social media forums, even information that seems entirely unrelated to your claim. Even the smallest detail could hold up the claims process and prolong how long it takes to recover damages.
Consider Legal Help
Some insurance companies act in good faith once they learn a client has a lawyer. By retaining legal help, you could combat any strategies that seek to devalue your losses.
You Can Partner With a Personal Injury Lawyer
Many people wrongfully think they can only work with lawyers if they’re filing lawsuits. That’s not the case. Lawyers can help with many aspects of the insurance claims process, including:
Every successful personal injury claim relies on evidence. The more evidence to support the injured person’s case, the better.
To supplement your case, your lawyer can use:
- The accident/police report
- Photos and videos of the accident scene (if available)
- Testimony from eyewitnesses
- Statements from third-party field consultants, such as healthcare providers
- Documentation of your damages
- Your medical records
- Information from your doctor
Determining Fault and Liability
Fault and liability are two separate things. The at-fault party directly caused your accident. The liable party should pay for your losses. So, if you were injured in a car accident, another motorist could be at fault. However, liability could rest with their insurance provider.
Your lawyer can sort out issues regarding fault and liability by reviewing evidence. Then, they can file a claim with the appropriate party and pursue damages.
Filing Your Insurance Claim
Filing an insurance claim comes with many moving parts. A lawyer can evaluate your losses and then send a demand letter to the liability insurer. This letter outlines how much you’re requesting and the basic details of your situation.
The insurer’s response dictates what happens next. If the insurer agrees to your terms, you could resolve your case via that avenue and get a settlement within a few weeks. If not, your lawyer can negotiate or file a lawsuit.
You Could File a Lawsuit
The subject of your lawsuit depends on your situation. For instance, if insurance doesn’t offer compensation, you could file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. You could also sue the insurance company if it violates the terms of your policy agreement.
Each state imposes a filing deadline on civil lawsuits. For example, if you live in South Carolina, you could have three years to file your lawsuit. Other states grant less generous filing deadlines, with some only giving a year to file.
A lawyer can manage each aspect of litigation if your case makes it to that point.
Reputable Personal Injury Lawyers Work on Contingency
Suffering an accident and injuries can strain your financial resources. You could have concerns about affording a lawyer. Yet, many offer their services on contingency, meaning they only request payment if they secure compensation for your losses.
You could learn more about this arrangement by beginning a free case review with an injury firm in your area. You could also learn about other benefits of partnering with an attorney.
You Deserve Prompt Settlement Payments After an Accident
You shouldn’t have to wait months to receive fair compensation from the insurance company. You deserve the compensation you need to start rebuilding your life immediately.
While you can manage the claims process on your own, doing so comes with many pitfalls. By entrusting your case to an injury lawyer, you get the time you need to focus on your health and well-being.